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The ancient architecture of Tongan Fale by Sitaleki Siu

SiuSitaleki Siu is a BA student in Tongan architecture, arts and culture in the School of Ethno-science and Humanities at Lo’au University. He enrolled in 2014. His plan is to finish BA and then continues to his MA with research on either the, ‘Ancient Tongan architecture of Fale Tonga’ or ‘Genealogy of the Sina’e’eiki and carpenter Lomu’. Siu is a direct descendant of Lomu as well. He has conducted three seminar at Lo’au University during the past three weeks on, ‘The architecture of ancient Fale Tonga’. 

Siu’s presentation highlighted the following issues:

- Fale Hunuki was the first shelter apart from caves and canoe up-side-down;
- The rest of the fale were either stemmed from Fale Hunuki or introduced from overseas especially Samoa (Fale Faka-Manuka/Manu’a) and Fiji (Fale Faka-Fisi);
- The structural parts of fale hunuki and the rest of the fale were named in conjunction to their individual functions, such as taufatungamotu’a, to’ofufu, ta’opatu, tau’olunga, kahoki, teke and ‘apai;

- Such names also reflect the economic, social, moral, political, cultural, cosmic and oceanic structures and influences of society and nature as in tau’olunga as a structural part of the house and name for solo female dance, and taufatungamotu’a as another part and Tongan translation for culture;

- The development of fale hunuki and others reflect the social, moral, environmental, political, cultural, artistic and architectural-technological changes of human kinds, and increasing complex and conflictual nature of society;
- The notions of ‘fata (square)’, ‘humu (triangle)’ and ‘fuopotopoto (circle/round)’ were fundamental to all fale since the first formation of fale hunuki, as well as, kupesi/geometrical pattern;
- The structural fata, humu and fuopotopoto were stemmed from the social practice of carrying a chief by four carriers, and it’s seen in the structures of fale, kalia and Langi (Royal tombs) also;
- All fale were structured and built to counteract storm, hurricane, heavy rain and hot seasons;
- The top structure of the fale with no ceiling allows warm air at daytime to rise while cool air stays at the bottom, and warm air goes down at night.


NB. Please click below to read and watch the seminar by Siu but you have to login or register first.